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Divorce mediation and other amicable approaches

Gwyneth Paltrow appears to the most recent poster child for a new movement in amicable divorce. In a recent blog entry on her lifestyle website, Goop, Ms. Paltrow confirmed that she is separating from Chris Martin, of Coldplay musical fame. However, she is committed to sparing the two kids she had with Martin from heartache. To do that, she describes her approach as a conscious coupling.

Although some media commentators have joked that the term may seem like a New Age gimmick, there is also something very practical in the approach. According to Los Angeles therapist Katherine Woodward Thomas, who coined the term, conscious uncoupling involves a shift in attitude about the divorce process. 

Traditional attitudes may view a divorce or separation as a failure, or a permanent breakdown in a couple’s relationship. Conscious uncoupling philosophy teaches the opposite. True, relationships help us at different points in our life. However, when a relationship ends, it may not be due to fault or loss of affection. Instead, the ending may signify that an individual is ready for new growth, and will need to find new partners to help him or her on that journey. In a word, a divorce could be viewed as an opportunity.

Although the concept of unconscious coupling cannot be found in divorce law, a divorce attorney will recognize that there are legal methods for obtaining a more amicable divorce. For example, a mediated divorce can give a couple more control over the process than a traditional divorce through the court system. With the help of their attorneys, a couple can make joint decisions in a divorce mediation on matters such as child support, property division, and spousal support. 

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Is 'conscious uncoupling' a better way to divorce?” Anya Sostek, March 29, 2014

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